Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Hey kids. So, She Has No Head! is back, and back with a bang if I do say so myself (which, apparently, I do).
Back when news of the “New DCU 52″ dropped so many moons ago (or, y’know, June) I wrote a post about my initial reactions to Flashpoint and the proposed “New DCU 52″. It was not a positive post. But I ended it by suggesting that in an attempt to see the line from a fresh “new-reader perspective”, which is what it seemed DC was going for, not to mention from a more positive, less cynical place, that I would do something called “The Comics Project” which would be similar to The Ladies Comics Project before it and would have lapsed and new comics readers reading the new DC 52 and reporting back. And so here we are:
The concept is pretty simple, and we’ve all seen versions of it through the internet over the last couple weeks (CBR and Comics Alliance have particularly good takes on the idea). What I did was solicit 47 friends, family, and colleagues (23 women and 24 men) asking if anyone had interest in reading a brand new #1 issue from DC in the month of September and filling out a survey. In order to be eligible they had to either:
A) Have a vague interest in comics and be curious what all of this “New DC 52″ might be about.
B) Have a more than vague interest in comics and be curious what all this “New DC 52″ might be about.
or C) Be someone that used to read comics or reads sporadically but has mostly fallen away from mainstream comics and saw this at a good moment to get back involved with mainstream comics.
I immediately got 20 responses, and I ended up with 22 participants in total (10 women and 12 men).
Mostly this group is in their 30’s, with a few over 40, and a few in their 20’s. Obviously by including women (gasp!) and people over the age of 34 (double gasp!) I did not end up with a pool solidly reflecting “DC’s preferred demographic” but I will say that there were plenty of other potential participants in those 47 people that I emailed, that ARE within DC’s “preferred demographic” and yet these are the people that responded. Take that as you will.
Like the “Ladies Comics Project” before it, I emailed everyone on the list a file with all the cover art and titles for them to select what they wanted to read. A book was only allowed to be chosen once. Unlike the other projects before this one, I also included a PDF of the official solicits of each book, in case people wanted to use more than cover art and title to gauge their picks. I then constructed a questionnaire and after buying the book and reading it myself, I mailed off the book and sent them the questionnaire with instructions to return the questionnaire via email within a week of receiving the book.
These are the responses from group one, which read books that released on September 7th, 2011. I hope you enjoy, I know I have!
As always with reviews, beware of SPOILERS.
NAME: Scott Thompson
BOOK: Animal Man #1
LOCATION: Salt Lake City, UT
OCCUPATION: Project Manager for a Software Company. Occasional sub-par actor.
PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? I collected at least ten titles with my sis for several years in my youth from about 12 until I went to college. These were mostly X-titles, but the number increased dramatically when image launched with all their silly new titles. I gave up in college when the finances and time just didn’t come as easily any more. I never jumped back on the full collector bandwagon. But I do currently read The Walking Dead, and Kel recommends things to me here and there that I check out, like the now not-so-recent Whedon Astonishing X-Men run and Scott Pilgrim.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? No.
IF YOU DID KNOW ABOUT IT, HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? Didn’t know about it until I was approached to be in the project. I think my first response when I was given the briefing was a general, “Why?” My second response was a little more volatile, revolving around the idea that this medium can’t possibly hope to gain respect in the world if they don’t even respect themselves enough not to do crazy shit like this to their characters.
WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Not likely.
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Not likely. Most of my previous experience was in the Marvelverse. An opportunity to start from scratch with some of these books is intriguing, to get to know these “old” characters from “the beginning” perhaps. But after reading Animal Man, I think I’m more confused with the general concept of this DC relaunch. It seems like they kept all his history and just started the book over at #1. I don’t know the details of his history though from before, so maybe they just changed a bunch of it? I don’t know, I’m confused.
WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? I had never heard of Animal Man, but I liked the concept from what I understood of it. The cover drew me in. I’m interested in genetics and evolution and the cover led me to believe that there was some sort of science behind how this guy’s powers worked. The first issue didn’t really confirm or deny that suspicion for me.
WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD? IF SO, WHY? I thought about going for a Bat title, as I have always loved the feel of Batman, the story behind it, and the flaws of the man inside. Batman is one of my favorite comic characters, even though I’ve never collected Bat books. That is an interesting statement in and of itself. Nevertheless, I wanted to try something new, and as stated above, the concept of Animal Man drew me in, even if the story did not.
DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? Meh. I wanted to like it. But when I got inside, I thought the story was kind of trite and overdone. I mean, an emotionally troubled guy holding kids hostage in a hospital? It just seemed like the kind of simple staged event to introduce readers to the basics of this guys power. It could have been better. Add to that, the fact that they didn’t really explain at all how the power really worked, and I was left wanting. The second half of the book got really weird…I mean, even weird for comic books weird. He dreams a dream where he’s walking around with his daughter, the rest of his family is dead, and then he gets this lame warning from these Hunter characters that looked like grown up versions of something you’d see in Labyrinth. I wasn’t impressed with the villains. There was an interview with the creators at the back of the book that I read that intimated that these Hunter jokers were going to be the main villains that he faced, and them going on and on about how cool the panel was with the reveal of these guys. Sorry, I wasn’t impressed. And with the knowledge that they are going to be the main villains going forward, I think I’ll pass on picking up the book again. The book ends with a really creepy scene of Animal Man’s daughter playing with a menagerie dead and withering animal carcasses. But I felt like was for pure shock value…the kind of thing where they put this thing in the book only to get you to pick up the next one, then explain it away as some random occurrence. There were some good things. The stuff with the family was interesting. You don’t see it every day, where a superhero has a (seemingly) functional family unit that supports and encourages his activities. That was the strength of the book.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Hmm..I think I blew my load above. The family interaction bits were the strength. It wasn’t lip service. I get the impression that the family will be a big part of this book going forward and as a driving force in Animal Man’s character.
WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? The lame dream-reveal sequence. I didn’t get it at all.
IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? I guess. Depends on how forgiving they are about not understanding the foundation of the guy’s powers. Maybe it would be clear to others, but it wasn’t clear to me.
DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A LAPSED READER THAT WANTS TO RETURN? Yeah, probably. They’ve got the basics of the guy already. So, they won’t need the first half that’s setting up a lot of the foundation. But I think when they get to the second half/dream sequence, they might just be bored…I was.
DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? At one point, in the dream sequence Animal Man turns into a walking, talking (breathing?) group of what look like arteries. There was a river of blood, and all of a sudden he was this weird arterial creature…I didn’t get it…at all.
DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? Nah. If I got the burn for a comic, I’d go get some X-title that looked interesting. I’d probably be massively disappointed again in that as well and give up on comics for another decade. The idea of a relaunch is something that should intrigue a person like me. I like the medium, I like fantasy and hero-y stuff, I have a history of being a comic book nerd. But this didn’t do much for me, maybe because it wasn’t ACTUALLY a fresh start like I was expecting. Maybe I was a victim of higher than could be met expectations?
DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? IF SO, PLEASE ELABORATE (AND LIST TITLES IF YOU CAN). I’m a little intrigued to try out another title. Just to see if the relaunch is handled differently elsewhere. But frankly, I only get so much time in a month to do stuff like reading comics. I think I’ll spend it reading GRRM or some other fantasy fare instead.
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF INTERESTED IN OTHER TITLES, WILL YOU ACTUALLY BUY THESE ISSUES WHEN THEY RELEASE IN THE COMING WEEKS? Not likely.
IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? Maybe. It would be a matter of convenience and boredom more than anything. If I happen to be stuck somewhere without much to do, and I happen to think about it, then I might do that. But I probably wouldn’t go with Animal Man. I’d go back to the X-titles to see if they suck.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS/CRITIQUE/PRAISE/CRITICISMS: I just re-read my responses and they sound so negative that it made me feel a little bad. I’m glad I got to be a part of the process and I’m thankful that I got to be temporarily pulled into a world that I used to love so much. But the book just didn’t light a fire for me. I guess I could have just said it like that instead of all the colorful anger…but if you read Kel’s blog, you know that Thompsons just aren’t made that way.
NAME: Andrew Seles
BOOK: Swamp Thing #1
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
OCCUPATION: Art Director & User Experience Consultant
PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? I read a bunch of Batman in the late 80s and early 90s, in the wake of Michael Keaton-Tim Burton Batmania. During the first half of the 90s I was an avid reader some of the Vertigo imprint titles: The Sandman, Hellblazer and Shade, The Changing Man. I’ve only picked up the occasional book since then.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Yes, but barely.
IF YOU DID KNOW ABOUT IT, HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? I happened to hear a story about it on NPR while driving around on some errands. It definitely caught my interest, especially because when I was growing up I was more of a DC kid. In the interview, they discussed the emphasis on revitalizing story lines; it would take more than gimmicky costume changes and issue number reset to increase long-term sales*. Still, I was a bit skeptical. I was an illustration major in college and a lot of the cartoony digitally drawn artwork I’ve seen while leafing through modern monthlies just doesn’t speak to me the same way as the traditionally and maturely penciled and inked books of my youth**. And as a friend pointed out, why on earth would you reset Action Comics (#904) and Detective Comics (#881) when you’re so close to issue #1000? I still don’t understand that one.
*They talked about how Aquaman and his hard-to-sell, orange and green duds needed some love, which I thought was pretty funny. What’s wrong with orange and green? I always thought the concept of submarine superheroes was cool, but I’d never bothered to pick up any Aquaman. Namor always seemed cooler because he was more of a jerk antihero and didn’t have that 50’s clean-cut blond hair. Anyway, when I read more about the relaunch, Aquaman seemed like one of the more interesting story lines. I mentioned this to my comic-fiend friend, to which he replied, “Aquaman sucks!”
**But then, I excel at making sweeping judgments based on a limited sample size.
WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Probably not. I have a bookshelf half-full of omnibuses that I’ve picked up in the last year and I’ve only read two of them. My eyes are always bigger than my stomach when it comes to consuming books.
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. After reading the details of all the titles, my eyes started grumbling again. Two days ago, I went to the local comics shop and reserved copies of a bunch: Aquaman, Batman, Batman: Dark Knight, Demon Knights, Detective Comics, Justice League: Dark, Resurrection Man (My wife is reading this one for The Comics Project. I’ll snag it out of her hands as soon as she’s done — if not before.), and Wonder Woman
WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? I can’t say it was my first choice — but if it wasn’t #1a or #1b, it was #1c. I’ve never read any Swamp Thing before. The Alan Moore era has been on my to-do list for awhile. My exposure has been limited to Swamp Thing’s appearances in Hellblazer and a few random minutes of the Wes Craven film while channel surfing. I don’t know much about Swamp Thing, but he’s obviously such a unique character in terms of his appearance and abilities. His name alone always elicited associations of The Creature from the Black Lagoon, so there’s a classic horror aura around him. But between Alan Moore and Hellblazer, I know there’s more to it than that. Anyway, I’ve always been drawn to darker or surreal characters and stories.
WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD? IF SO, WHY? I think my first choice was Justice League: Dark. While I’m a fan of odd-couple reluctant partnerships between to characters, I usually stay away from titles with teams of three or more. There’s usually just too many characters to focus in on and I miss the angst and dysfunctional details of the loner protagonists I love. That being said, how could I resist a title that brings together two of my most beloved personalities from Vertigo’s heyday? Shade and John Constantine are probably my favorite characters of all time not named Batman. My second choice was Aquaman. Maybe I was just answering the call to “give Aquaman some love” — but the new story sounded pretty sweet to me:
“Aquaman has renounced the throne of Atlantis – but the sea will not release Arthur Curry so easily. Now, from a forgotten corner of the ocean emerges… The Trench! A broken race of creatures that should not exist, an unspeakable need driving them.”
A broken race?! Unspeakable need?! The Trench sound pretty scary. Besides, have you seen the stuff that lives in the real-life forgotten corners of the ocean?
Also, I love anything that incorporates or expands upon old mythology, folklore and legend like Atlantis.
DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? I had mixed feelings about it. I was really pleased with the artwork; I believe I’ve taken my first step to overcoming my aversion to more digitally illustrated comic art. Everything was really well drawn and there were some great panel layouts. The writing seemed fine in terms of dialogue (and it was pretty much exclusively dialogue), but I had some issues with how the story unfolded with one particularly big, swampy gripe.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? It was definitely the artwork and events on the panels and spreads illustrating the newly forming, villainous threat. You don’t really get a clear look at the giant silhouetted bipedal beast; you just know it came into being from the feathers, fur and bones surrounding a Mastodon fossil dig. It never actually strikes anyone either. Instead the flies that surround it enter the ears of its human victims and their heads twist around 180 degrees. That doesn’t kill them, mind you. Instead, they seem to be zombified and enslaved by the creature. So yeah, that was pretty awesome. The pages and panels that depict this part of the story are really well done. It’s a disturbing and chaotic nighttime scene, executed with gruesome action; it’s straight-up horror.
WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? Swamp Thing doesn’t actually appear until the last panel of the whole book. Look, I understand this is a relaunch and there’s going to be some time spent setting up the character and his current predicament. But, I know what title I have in my hands. It’s Swamp Thing. I don’t think there’s a whole lot to be gained by a big reveal at the end. Instead of anticipation, a mild annoyance was building of, “C’mon, when do I get me some Swamp Thing?” It left me wondering what the title character might do or say were he actually in the story. Most of our time is spent with the alter-ego which isn’t really what we’re here for. At least I now know that if I ever leave the book upside down on the coffee table, I can either flip it over OR turn to the last page to find out what it is.
IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? I had some issues with references to backstory (more on that later), but I was able to follow the general narrative. I finished the book with a mixed reaction — while I liked the general tone and story I still want to know what Swamp Thing the character is all about. I was disappointed I didn’t get a real taste for it in this first book. This may work for new readers in the sense that they’ll come back for more, but my patience will be short if subsequent issues don’t quickly deliver.
DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? There were a lot of references to the main character’s (Dr. Holland) previous incarnation as Swamp Thing. Apparently he died or something. I couldn’t really follow. I don’t know if this was a nod to the existing readership or if more will be revealed in time, but it left me a bit lost. Probably not a great thing for a re-launch. Then again, it didn’t seem like the good doctor really knew either. If rediscovering his own past plays into it, I could be on board — although that’s not the most novel premise.
DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? The monstrous threat at hand did. My desire to see Swamp Thing in action did. The fact that I didn’t get any of the latter in this issue did not.
IF SO, WILL YOU BUY THE NEXT ISSUE WHEN IT RELEASES NEXT MONTH? Yes.
DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? I’m already going to check out the titles I listed previously — but I signed up for those before I even read this. I don’t hold any one title responsible for others. While I’m sure there is an overall creative direction, I’m betting the success of each title depends on its unique appeal and the individual creative teams that produce each book. I’d say more than this particular book, the entire DC relaunch has gotten me interested in comics again. We’ll see if it lasts.
BOOK: Stormwatch #1
LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA
OCCUPATION: Architectural Designer
PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? None, but experience with superheroes and comic concepts in movies.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Yes.
IF YOU DID KNOW ABOUT IT, HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? I heard a piece on NPR about it. I also saw an ad on the cable station BBC/America. The NPR segment described the re-launch and how it would work. It was intriguing to me that the stories can restart. They said people were going to protest because the stories might change a bit and be modernized, but as I never read them before, that would not bother me.
WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. I considered it because I found the concept of a restart intriguing, but I probably would never have bought a book had it not been for this project.
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Probably not, but I can’t say never. I would definitely not continue with the same book.
WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? Because Kelly suggested it; after my first choices were taken. Knowing none of the stories and few of the characters, it was impossible to choose based on content. And cover art and book titles are not much to go on. Some titles were familiar, but several I’d never heard of.
WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD? IF SO, WHY? Yes, but based only on titles and cover art.
DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? Didn’t love it. I found it confusing. There seemed to be lots of assumptions that I would be familiar with the characters and storylines. Since it was #1, I would have hoped that the book would have lots of introductions to the characters and plots. I felt like I was thrown into the middle of a story. The book also jumped around too much, from one scene or location to the next, from one character to another, with no apparent relationship between them. In the end, some were tied together, but again, as a #1, it was too confusing. Maybe I expect like in a good movie that the characters are developed early on so I can identify them and understand their relationships to each other.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? I do like space-based science fiction, and this had some of it. But I was so confused that I couldn’t enjoy that. Some of the art was interesting and ethereal – beautiful imagery; most of those scenes were not about the characters and more about the locations.
WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? I hated the ads. The page frame and background of the ads were the same as the story pages. Sometimes I would move to the ad like it was the next page. Of course, this would throw off my whole rhythm which made me lose interest mid-stream. The page borders should be a different color or use other fonts and illustration types. Maybe this is normal, but for someone who has never read a comic book, it makes no sense.
IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? No. See above.
DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? Constantly lost. See above.
DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, IF SO WHY? No. At most I would try another book.
IF IT DID NOT INTRIGUE YOU, CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY NOT? Too confusing.
DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? Maybe, but unlikely. I’d need a good sales pitch. Maybe I need something with more humor.
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF INTERESTED IN OTHER TITLES, WILL YOU ACTUALLY BUY THESE ISSUES WHEN THEY RELEASE IN THE COMING WEEKS? Doubtful.
IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? No. Maybe another title.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS/CRITIQUE/PRAISE/CRITICISMS: I’m dying to know if I got a bad one, or if they are all like this and I’m just not a comic book person. I love most of the movie versions, but maybe that’s because there are no ads!
BOOK: O. M. A. C. #1
LOCATION: New York, NY
OCCUPATION: Art Department Coordinator for film and television
PREVIOUS EXPOSURE TO COMICS/GRAPHIC NOVELS, IF ANY? I have “collected” comics since I was 9 years old. I went to school to be a cartoonist, and still read comics semi-regularly.
DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE DC RELAUNCH PRIOR TO BEING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? Yes
IF YOU DID KNOW ABOUT IT, HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT IT AND WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT IT? Besides reading about it online, I was also given an article from the New York Times by my boss. My initial reaction was that it played like a stunt, but gradually my opinion changed after reading what some of the players were saying about the relaunch. Now, however, I am back to believing it’s a stunt.
WERE YOU PLANNING TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS PRIOR TO BECOMING INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. Yes, I wanted to read O. M. A. C., Animal Man, Swamp Thing, Mr. Terrific, and DC Universe Presents. I may not have bought all of these, but I was interested in reading them.
AFTER PARTICIPATING IN THIS PROJECT DO YOU NOW PLAN TO READ ANY OF THESE BOOKS? PLEASE LIST BOOKS IF POSSIBLE. I will give each of these books at least one issue. If I’m blown away they could become a regular read. I am 99.9% sure I will not last past five issues, but I’m trying to keep an open mind.
WHY DID YOU PICK THE BOOK YOU PICKED? I have always been someone who will give Keith Giffen a shot (Book of Fate, Heckler, Trencher, etc…). This hasn’t been true of every book he has been involved with, but I find him entertaining as a writer and as an artist if the material has some room for comedy.
WERE THERE OTHER BOOKS YOU WANTED TO CHOOSE INSTEAD? IF SO, WHY? In hindsight I should have picked Animal Man. I would have read Animal Man regardless of circumstances.
DID YOU LIKE THE BOOK? IF SO, WHY; IF NOT, WHY NOT? In the end, I did not like the book. It failed to grab me, in spite of a premise that intrigues me. While I enjoyed the artwork, Giffen doing his Kirby pastiche (homage?) was fun, but it was not enough to make me overlook the elements I did not like. The dialogue, and the story in this issue as a whole were a throwback to an era of comic writing that should remain in the back issue bins. I also did not like the O. M. A. C. character design. The idea of going for a massive, Hulk-like figure is a solid one, but the weird mohawk served only as a distraction and served to enhance an aspect of modern coloring that I hate (that issue is too complicated to explain in the context of this project). This book was also unfairly saddled with my expectations, as none of the humor I was hoping to find in a book co-written by Giffen (with THAT art) was present. The book read more like a corny comic from the 70’s, and if that was the intent then my expectations ruined whatever enjoyment would have come from said corny comic style.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? While I liked the art, my favorite aspect overall was the premise.
WHAT WAS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE BOOK? My least favorite thing was the character design on OMAC. Change only that and this book might have had a chance to succeed.
IS THE BOOK NEW READER FRIENDLY – I.E. IN YOUR OPINION DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A NEW READER? Yes. The book isn’t bogged down in continuity. It drops the reader in the middle of a lab, we get a glance at some of our characters, then – WHAM – the action starts and continues until the last few pages, where the rest of the series is set up. You don’t need to know anything that isn’t being told to you in the story. In fact, the only character I recognized is Dubbilex, who introduces himself in a clunky bit of exposition. The book would be perfect for new readers if it was a better book.
DOES THE BOOK WORK FOR A LAPSED READER THAT WANTS TO RETURN? Assuming you mean a lapsed reader of superhero comics, I do think book works. It is heavy on action, which most superhero comic fans enjoy, features an interesting sci-fi premise, and ends with an effective hook.
DID YOU EVER FIND YOURSELF LOST, I.E. COULD YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT WAS HAPPENING, WHO THE CHARACTERS WERE, AND WHAT THEY WERE DOING AND WHY? I was never lost.
DID IT INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO BUY THE NEXT ISSUE? The book wasn’t good enough to get me to buy another issue.
DID THIS BOOK INTRIGUE YOU ENOUGH TO MAKE YOU WANT TO TRY OUT OTHER TITLES? This book did not make me want to buy any titles that I wasn’t already interested in.
IF YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD NOT BUY THE NEXT ISSUE, WOULD YOU CONSIDER BUYING THE NEXT ISSUE IF YOU KNEW YOU COULD GET IT DIGITALLY (TO BE READ ON AN iPAD OR SIMILAR) FOR A LOWER PRICE? No.
And that’s it for Part One!
So…am I surprised by these responses? Having read a good chunk of the “New DCU 52″ so far, in a word, No.
In more words? Though I have enjoyed some of the issues, and some of them unexpectedly (Animal Man #1 came out of nowhere for me) I don’t find most of what I have read remotely new reader friendly. Worse, I would say that of these four gents, three of them have significant comics experience behind them and that that should have HELPED them and made these comics less confusing, but it doesn’t seem to have done much good. It makes me nervous for the rest of the experiment, which for the most part, has reviewers with far less comics reading experience. That said, I still think this is a fascinating look into why comics do and don’t work for people inexperienced with the medium and to a degree, the genre. I can’t wait to see the rest of the responses, and I hope you’ll all come back for more. As fans so entrenched in this thing we love, it’s interesting and I think illuminating to see how others view it, and what kind of problems they have with it. For example, I hear a lot of complaints here as I did in the Ladies Comics Project about hating the ads, and while I’m certainly not a fan of ads, I don’t know about you, but I stopped noticing them roughly 20 years ago.
Thanks to Scott, Andrew, Tom, and Adam for participating, and to Tara Abbamondi for the “The Comics Project” illustration.
Make sure to come back next week for reviews of Batwoman #1, Deathstroke #1, Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #1, Green Lantern #1, Grifter #1, Mister Terrific #1, Resurrection Man #1, and Suicide Squad #1.
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